And his name shall be called … Mighty God. Isaiah 9:6
Paul Houlton Terry was a cartoonist and film maker who produced over 1300 cartoons from 1915 to 1955. Among the many Terrytoons he created, Mighty Mouse, originally called Super Mouse, was his most successful. Super Mouse began as a parody of Superman.
It seems oddly satirical to pair the words “super” and “mouse” into a single identity. To call someone “mousey” is not a compliment. Except for Micky Mouse, mice are notoriously weak and unexceptional. “Mighty Mouse” strikes an even stranger caricature because nobody thinks of mice as mighty. However, in the cartoon world, anybody can be a superhero.
Isaiah 9:6-7 contains the second of seven Christmas names by which we can know God. The prophet says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And his name shall be called … Mighty God.” In the Hebrew language, the name Mighty God is El Gibbor. El is the singular form of Elohim, which refers to the one true God; Gibbor means strength, power, or hero. Mighty God is a magnificent name!
The focus of Mighty God is the one true God who is truly our Superhero with unparalleled power and strength. To say Jesus is our Superhero might sound sacrilegious but hang with me. In a world of superheroes like Batman, Superman, and Ironman, Jesus is the greatest and most worthy of hero worship. All other so-called superheroes have their weaknesses. Superman, for example, becomes powerless in the presence of kryptonite. Some say Batman is emotionally weak. Ironman has chronic heart disease. Eventually, Ironman died and never came back from the dead, as one might expect a superhero should do.
Jesus, on the other hand, has no weaknesses; He defeated sin, death, and the devil through His powerful resurrection. Jesus does not possess the power of God; He is the power of God and mightier than Mighty Mouse could ever hope to be. Besides, in the real world, Jesus is a real person in history and eternity; the other superheroes are comic book characters.
The Gospels put on full display the mighty works of Jesus, fulfilling what Isaiah predicted centuries earlier. For example, before He was born in Bethlehem, Jesus was a mighty Creator. John 1:3 says of the word who became flesh, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” The Apostle Paul concurs when he says of Jesus, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
Furthermore, Revelation 4:11 says the angels of heaven sing, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” The writer of Hebrews says Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (1:3).
Both John and Paul go all the way back to Genesis and the six days of creation for an understanding of Messiah’s power. When Mighty Jesus created, He created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. He literally spoke the worlds into existence (1:3), demonstrating the impressive power of His word. As the image bearers of God, we are creative, but we cannot create out of nothing. At best, we take raw materials and creatively arrange them into something new.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus also expressed His mightiness over His creation. Luke 5:1-11 records the time when Jesus called Peter, a fisherman, to follow Him. After a failed night of fishing, Peter stood amazed when Jesus made a school of fish swim into his embarrassingly empty nets. On another occasion, Jesus stilled a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee while in a boat with His disciples (Mark 4:35-41). Jesus’s mightiness over nature provoked a Christological question from the disciples, “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Jesus was mighty in healing miracles, too. The Gospels record numerous miracles that Jesus performed. As Messiah, Jesus set the captives free and restored sight to the blind (Luke 4:18-19). On one occasion, a woman with a blood disorder for twelve years simply touched the hem of Jesus’s garment and was healed. Amidst a large crowd, Mighty Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46).
Jesus was mighty over demons. The fallen angels knew who He was and trembled in His presence. In Luke’s Gospel, following the perfect storm miracle, Jesus healed a demoniac, a naked man possessed by a legion of demons who lived in the Gerasene caves. Mighty Jesus told the evil spirits to leave the man’s body, and they obeyed Him immediately (Luke 8:26-39). Furthermore, Jesus was mighty over temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), mighty over stress in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46), and mighty over death when He rose from the grave three days after His crucifixion.
As mighty as Jesus was when He walked this earth, He described Himself as “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). The King James translation reads “meek and lowly in heart.” Meek? Was Jesus weak not mighty? Was Jesus contradicting Isaiah who said the Messiah would be a Mighty God? Did Jesus lack self-awareness? Not in the least. Meekness means mightiness or power under control.
Mighty Jesus acted meekly when He reminded Pilate that he would have “no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19;11). Jesus could have used His might to call down the armies of heaven at any time to stop His crucifixion. Instead, He chose restraint, obedience, and submission to the Father’s plan. There is nothing mousey about Mighty Jesus.
A Meaningful Christmas
The irony of Bethlehem is that Mighty Jesus became as weak and vulnerable as a crying baby. How is Christmas more meaningful to us because “his name shall be called … Mighty God”? The answer to that question has something to do with where you need the power of God in your life this Christmas.
Do you need salvation? Do you need your sins forgiven? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).
Do you need the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian live victoriously? The same Holy Spirit that impregnated Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, lives inside of you by faith in Mighty Jesus. Plus, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).
Do you need the assurance of your salvation? First Peter 1:5 reminds us that we are “kept by the power of God.”
Do you need the strength to make it through life’s challenges? You can do all things through Mighty Jesus who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).
Do you need courage? Remember Paul’s words to timid Timothy, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Do you have a “thorn in the flesh” that is nagging you? Remember the Lord’s words to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Do you need God to fulfill the dream and destiny that He placed in your heart? Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”
The lyrics to a contemporary Christian chorus remind us of a truth which is appropriate to sing, especially at Christmas:
What a Mighty God we serve.
What a Mighty God we serve.
Angels bow before him.
Heaven and earth adore him.
What a Mighty God we serve.
What an El Gibbor we serve!